America’s barns are full this year as a result of hard work on the farms. Once a major voting bloc, farmers are largely ignored by the media and politicians. One major difference between the recent Thanksgiving and that of 1932, in the depths of the Great Depression, is the availability of plentiful food. America’s rich harvests do not come from those protesting.
“Raise less corn and more hell,” one prairie populist, Mary Lease, exhorted farmers in the 1870s. She was known as the Kansas pythoness in those days before women’s suffrage made such references to a woman’s sex politically incorrect. Pythoness or not, Mary Lease could probably not approve of today’s play-acting “barn raisings.” She demanded redress of real grievances.
If the Occupiers really want to change the system, they should use the political system to achieve hope and change. They could leave their ramshackle, barn-like structures and get involved in the primary and caucus process. Since they seem to be determined to re-live the Sixties, maybe they could “get clean for Gene” or somebody.
In 1968, long-haired youth shaved and spruced up to hit the campaign trail in New Hampshire, determined to drive Lyndon B. Johnson from office. They rallied behind the unlikely candidacy of U.S. Sen. Eugene McCarthy (D-Minn.) In a way, they succeeded. LBJ dropped out of the race after winning the New Hampshire Democratic primary—but seeing McCarthy’s 42% showing as a sign of sure defeat in the fall.
So why not mount a challenge in the primaries? If Vermont’s socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders is unwilling, perhaps they could entice former Sen. Russ Feingold into entering the fray. Or former Labor Sec. Robert Reich? Maybe, even, Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman? There’s always Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio). Now that he’s announced his retirement from the House, might Congressman Barney Frank be persuaded?
The “Occupy” movement has worn out its welcome. And its usefulness—even to the Left. Such a diffuse, undisciplined, piddling effort can achieve little unless it has a focus, a clearly understood goal. In 1968, the Left wanted Lyndon Johnson out. They achieved that, even at the cost of getting Nixon in. They rallied to the Obama banner in 2008 and enjoyed an electoral sweep. They enacted much of their agenda, and the stalled economy is the result. Perhaps if they took their cause to the people, through open and democratic elections, they could strike a responsive chord among the 99%. It would certainly be better than cheering a piddler on the roof.